According to our friends at AOL Health, we are ruining our lives. They’ve compiled a list of dangerous ways to relax – and unfortunately for me (and probably a lot of you) this list could pretty much make my “interests” section on Facebook.
For college students, things like zoning out in front of the TV, pigging out on greasy pizza, and binge drinking are simply facts of life: we don’t see their inherent potential to harm us, we simply perpetuate these behaviors because they’re easy or convenient or fun.
But this AOL Health article really rings true. Yeah, we do a lot of these things because in the moment, at this point in our lives, we can usually come out of these behaviors completely unscathed. Sure, it’s fine to indulge in Gossip Girl marathons once in a while, or to wake up in the middle of the night and reach for that stick of cookie dough after a hard breakup, but replacing these unhealthy, sometimes-unsafe practices with healthier ones could make a huge difference in the long run. Stress can have really serious implications, so why engage in behaviors that only do more to ruin our bodies?
Here are five awesome, easy ways to deal with stress in a healthy way:
Take a walk: It may not get your heart pumping the way a run would, but taking a walk is a great way to (literally) step away from the things that cause you stress. If it’s nice outside, the fresh air from an outdoor walk will calm you down while the monotony of keeping a steady pace allows you to focus on your thoughts. Research shows that just being outside can cause stress levels to drop. If it’s too hot or cold outside, drive to the closest mall and walk around the entire perimeter. Just try not to get lured in by window displays!
Read: Call me old-fashioned, but I totally believe in the power of picking up a good book. And no, I’m not suggesting you download one or break out your Kindle or whatever people do these days. I’m saying make a trip to the bookstore, spend at least an hour browsing, and come home ready to crack open a page-turner. Whether your choice is cerebral (Plato, anyone?) or fun (confession: the third installment of Lauren Conrad’s LA Candy series, Sugar And Spice, is on my nightstand right now), a good book will not only take your mind off of things, it’ll also give your eyes a much-needed break from the glaring light of your computer, TV, or phone.
Cook: Working towards a goal makes you feel accomplished, but when that goal is something that can seriously affect your life, like studying for a huge test or applying for a job, it can add to your stress level. Something that feels more trivial can do the opposite. Making a new dish from scratch is the kind of thing that will make you feel like you have a purpose; luckily, no one is grading or evaluating your skills, so if you fail it’s no biggie.
Pamper yourself: Giving yourself a mini manicure is a great way to de-stress. Soak your hands and feet, slather on rich lotion, and clip/file your nails. It’s a super relaxing activity that yields real results: if you really feel like going all-out, rub a foot scrub across your heels to remove any gross calluses, cover the spot with Vaseline, and wear socks for a few hours to let it really soak in. The most important part? Choosing a bright, pretty shade of nail polish – there’s nothing more mood altering than a handful of polished nails – use a neon shade if need energy, and a pastel if you need a calming influence.
Revamp your wardrobe: Go through everything you’ve accumulated and find new ways to wear clothes that scream “three years ago.” Better yet, take these old trends and make them work right now. Have an old black blazer lying around? Wrap some fun fabric on the cuffs, sew it in place, and voila! You have a brand new boyfriend blazer (so hot right now), minus the $200 price tag. If working with your hands and evading an expensive purchase aren’t amazing ways to relax, I don’t know what will do it.
This is a stressful time of year, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by everything. Almost everyone experiences stress, but in different ways: what kind of stress plagues you? Find out here and learn the best ways for you to combat your stress.